Jon Keller, moderator: Ms. Healey you'll go first here. Seventeen states including New Hampshire have a so-called Castle Doctrine law that says if you reasonably believe that someone is trying to kill you or seriously harm you in your home, you car or your place of business, you can use deadly force against them without fear of prosecution. Massachusetts limits that right to your home. Which state has it right, Massachusetts or New Hampshire? Sixty seconds.
Kerry Healey: Well I certainly think that it makes sense in your home. And while I haven't made a full study of how this has worked in other states I think that we absolutely should preserve the opportunity for someone to defend themselves without limitation within their own home. Everyone knows who should belong in one's home and who shouldn't. If someone comes into your home and threatens you then I think you certainly have the right to defend yourself even to the point of using deadly force.
Keller: Thank you. Mr. Mihos.
Christy Mihos: Absolutely for the Castle Doctrine Jon. A man's castle is uh, his home is his castle and there should be no one questioning that whatsoever. I will work hard to pass the Castle Doctrine here in Massachusetts.
Keller: Mr. Patrick.
Deval Patrick: I think that the reasonable use of force including deadly force to defend one's home is a bedrock principle and I understand it. And I support it. Indeed I think we ought to be looking to strike balance between responsible gun ownership and use and irresponsible gun ownership. Making guns more available as they are today, flooding in over state lines and used by gangs in violent crime. That's where I think the emphasis ought to lie.
Keller: Ms. Ross.
Grace Ross: Well, you know, I think in your home. I think workplaces are a little more complicated and in the street is very complicated. You know, it's interesting. i think the real answers to these questions lie in creating safer communities because you know a lot of the violence that happens at home isn't from strangers. It's domestic violence and we've made laws in MA to this point and our resources available to domestic violence victims way insufficient. We've got a lot of women trapped at home right now with no place to go. So we can't talk about protection in general but I think we need to be specific about where the real dangers lie and actually deal with the violence which is usually between people who know each other.
Healey: If I could please add to that. I recently proposed a law this past year which I think would address some of the problems and concerns that many of the victims of domestic violence have, one of which is they're often driven into homelessness as a result of threats of people who they live with or are driven out of the workplace because of the concern that someone could find them there. What I proposed was to have GPS tracking for perpetrators who violate domestic violence stay-away orders so we can draw zones of privacy and protection for those victims around their homes, around their places of work, around their children's schools so that they wouldn't be driven into homelessness. Right now 23 percent of all the women in, and children, in our homeless shelters are directly fleeing domestic violence and another 60 percent overall have been victims of domestic violence within the last year. So there's a real concern that while we look at our homelessness problem we should be looking at our domestic violence problem and we should be looking at the fear factor that occurs when someone is threatening you in your home and you feel have to leave.
Keller: Further comment. Go ahead sir.
Patrick: I just add, I just first of all want to give kudos to the lieutenant governor for the proposal that you brought forward this year and that's a good proposal. I think what's not a good proposal however is your position just last week to make it easier for an ex-con to get a gun than a job. And to move the idea, the approval for handguns, out of police chiefs local authorities where they have the best understanding of people in their communities and move that to a new state bureaucracy. That I think is a mistake. the proposal you mentioned though seems right to me.
Healey: Deval you're making an assumption that is completely false. All I said was that the same laws and the same regulations and stipulations about who should be able to own a gun and who should not be able to own a gun should apply to every single person in this Commonwealth equally. Right now we have some police chiefs who exercise their discretion in one direction and some police chiefs who exercise their discretion in another direction. So the laws of this Commonwealth are not being applied equally, I think that's something you could certainly endorse and the other thing is we don't have a very clear listing of what would disqualify you from having a gun. My bigger concern about gun laws right now is that we have mandatory minimum gun laws, the Bartley Fox Law, that is never enforced in this state. So rarely enforced. All of these gun crimes and yet no one goes to jail for illegally possessing a gun.
Keller: Brief response and I'll let you others in if you like. Go ahead, briefly. Go ahead Mr. Patrick.
Patrick: Thanks Jon. Let me just say I think again I think this is an area where we agree, at least in terms of the enforcement of mandatory minimums around gun possession. You're right, that's a problem we have right now and one that we ought to fix. I will say though that as important as it is to have uniform standards for approval of handguns, the notion of taking that deciding authority away from people who are closest to the folks who are making those applications, who know the community, I think is a mistake and I think most police chiefs do as well.
Keller: Very briefly and then the others have a chance.
Healey: Deval, you need to read my proposal. My proposal is that we have a police commissioner who will take any of the advice form that police chief into account but also established regimented criteria for who should not have a gun.
Keller: Ms. Ross who was waiting then to you Mr. Mihos.
Ross: Yeah, I want to go the other direction, which is to go back to the domestic violence issue which is that absolutely we need perimeters. And I've worked with many women whose restraining orders have been violated around that. But right now the bigger issue is that women cant get out of their homes because of the cuts and domestic violence shelters aren't big enough for the need and things like welfare that used to be the economic escape route have been completely shut down so our domestic violence shelters now, used to be women were there with their kids maybe three months, now they're there a year, a year and three months. And so to really address the issue we need to address the fact that like most of the violence that happens it usually happens between people who know each other. And you can talk about the licensing of guns, I actually agree with you, it should be local, but right now the bigger problem is the guns that aren't getting licensed at all. They come into our communities. And there are good proposals about cradle to grave tracking for not only for guns but for bullets so that we know where the guns are coming form and you talked about wanting to work with law enforcement to create a net to capture those guns that are flowing into our state. Everybody wants to do that. We need some new proposals that are actually going to make that work and cradle to death marking is one way to go that way.
Keller: Thank you, I'll move on unless you want anything further. Allright lets continue and Mr. Mihos you'll start. What percent of your income did you give to charity last year? Whom did you give it to and why?
Mihos: At least 10 percent, I try to give 10 percent each and every year. Different charities, Red Cross, United Way, a lot of local charities that no one ever hears about. Down on the Cape we see a lot of people, we see a lot of hurt down there. And whether it's a church group or a civic group, whatever it is, I always try to give 10 percent. At least 10 percent and a lot of my corporate profits also away to charities.
Keller: How much was that?
Mihos: A lot.
Keller: Mr. Patrick.
Patrick: I think my wife and I gave a little bit better than $300,000 in charitable donations last year and we were blessed to be able to do so. And all or most of that was for educational initiatives, mostly of the kind that search talent and give kids who might not have a chance a chance just like I had through the A Better Chance program.
Keller: What percent of your income was that?
Patrick: About 10 percent.
Keller: Ms. Ross.
Ross: Well I didn't have a lot of money to give away last year but when I have had money to give away I've always given it to programs that are advocacy programs that are going to address large numbers of people. So whether its health care or basic services like access to child care or food stamps, things that bring affordable housing into our communities because what I know is that as somebody who doesn't have a lot of money and am going to be dependent on programs as I get older those programs need to be there and my best investment is an investment that helps everybody so that none of us fall through the holes and right now a lot of folks are falling through the holes.
Keller: And what percent of your income was that?
Ross: I've sometimes given away when I've had money come to me in a lump sum, I've usually given all of it away at the time.
Healey: I think it's about 10 percent as well and the sorts of things that my husband and I like to contribute to are educational institutions, cultural institutions, churches who are doing work in the community. I've donated, one of the few things that's public is I've donated to Roxbury Presbyterian to help them rebuild their church and get their programs for gang involved youths back on track. The United Way, those sorts of programs. I think that charitable giving is extremely important and one of the things that I've proposed in my 50 new ideas for Massachusetts is that we should actually implement one of the other things, one of the ballot initiatives that was on the ballot in the year 2000, which was to make charitable donations in MA tax deductible. It would make it much better for many of the people who work here for nonprofit to have that added incentive that people would support non profit activity here in Massachusetts and obviously its better for tax payers as well.
Keller: Ten percent. How much was that?
Healey: That's something that I'm not going to disclose to you Jon.
Keller: Further comment?
Ross: Yeah, further comment. I mean it's interesting that you say that that was a good initiative that the voters passed. Where are you on clean elections, because the voters passed that too and that would really help -- Healey: I would say that if the voters proposed it and passed it than we should of put that into place.
Ross: There you go.
Keller: Alright unless there's anything else.
Healey: Which is not to say that I agree with it.
Ross: (laughs) Keller: OK, thank you very much. Mr. Patrick your turn to lead off. Since the 1970s at least a dozen states have decriminalized the possession by adults of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Massachusetts is not one of them. In a 2003 Boston University study estimated that the thousands of arrests for pot possession each year cost more than $24 million in law enforcement resources. There's a bill before the legislature that would reduce the penalty for possession of less than an ounce to a $100 civil fine. Would you sign it if it reached your desk?
Patrick: Well I hope it doesn't reach my desk to tell you the truth because I just don't think that's where our priorities ought to lie. I mean I think that when it comes to drug enforcement the emphasis ought to be on big traffickers who are ultimately responsible for the devastation of drugs in communities and I will tell you also as harmless as many people view the possession of a small amount of marijuana and indeed as much of the medical community now views the use of marijuana for medical relief of cancer sufferers for example. I think it was the same person who gave my drug-addicted, heroin-addicted uncle his first joint that ultimately gave him access to heroin, so I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of legalizing marijuana. I just don't think it ought to be our priority.
Keller: So you would veto that bill?
Patrick: I would veto that.
Keller: Ms. Ross.
Ross: It's interesting, I haven't thought about whether I would sign it or not. If I was going to decriminalize something I don't' think I would do it with some small percentage measure. So in other words you've got a small amount on you, that's fine, you slid some under your seat in the car so that you didn't get caught. This is a little parsing, this and that. What we do know is that drug addiction is a big problem and it is using up more than $24 million worth of our law enforcement dollars by far and that needs to be shifted over like the American Medical Association has said to medical treatment instead of throwing people in prison. So, not big for throwing people in prison for small amounts of marijuana but what the real issue is -- drug addiction, and every other industrialized nation doesn't have as many people in prison and there's a reason because when someone's addicted to something they can get treatment on demand, they can get treatment immediately because universal health care means when you know you need treatment you go in and you get it. So I think if we're going to talk about drugs lets catch the big folks who have the big amounts of money who bring them into communities, not the small fish.
Keller: So you'd sign or veto? You're not sure. Ross: I'd think about it. I want it in the context of other policy changes that are much more important. Healey: I would veto that proposal. I think that we need to take drug addiction our society immensely seriously. We at all levels pay for the drug addiction that occurs in our society and I do believe that drug use can be progressive. Maybe not for everyone but for many people it genuinely is. And right now our budge t to treat people for drug addiction and drug-related problems in our society is $250 million a year out of our state budget. That's what we currently devote to these problems and these programs and that doesn't count, that doesn't even count how much it costs to put these cases through the court system or to incarcerate people whose offenses are related to drugs. The tragedy that I see repeatedly when you look at DSS is how many kids are in that DSS system because their parents are drug addicted, because they are at a point where they're are neglecting their children because of drug addiction. Anything that leads to drug addiction should be absolutely off the table and I would never legalize drugs.
Keller: Thank you. Mr. Mihos.
Mihos: I would veto that bill Jon. I'm for anything that helps people in suffering with medicinal purposes and all but I would veto that bill.
Keller: Thank you. Rebuttal?
Ross: Yes, I think we got to be real here because it's not about what's legal and what's not legal completely because a lot of those kids in DSS their parents are addicted to alcohol, not to illegal substances and I think that the one piece about this kind of question that's legitimate is that addiction is not connected with which substances are legal or not. And so we need to be honest here. I think the question of where marijuana sits in comparison to alcohol is a legitimate question and we need to deal with addiction as addiction and not about criminalizing people who are addicted. We need to deal with it as addiction.
Keller: Other responses.
Healey: I'd like to jump in here and talk about some of the things our administration has been able to do.
Keller: Briefly please.
Healey: For example, we've put together for the first time a statewide substance abuse plan. I brought in the leaders of the house and the senate committee on that to work with us to figure out how to restructure our drug treatment programs throughout the state. And I've also worked very hard to establish three sobriety high schools. These are high schools for kids who have otherwise not been able to go back to school because they've been through drug treatment but they were not able to go back to their old schools because there were people there who were using drugs or selling drugs. We now have three of them around the state and those kids are able to come back and finish their educations. Its a great accomplishment.
Patrick: It's a great idea. I will say though that when I talk to medical professionals, when I talk to people who are dealing with substance abuse, the issue of treatment on demand is a serious one. We don't have enough detox facilities. We have cut the availability of those kinds of opportunities in corrections facilities. Eighty to 90 percent, excuse me, of the inmates in our corrections facilities have drug and alcohol addiction issues but we don't give them the opportunity to dry out or clean up when they're serving their time. So we need to connect these dots. This is a great idea, these high schools that you talk about lieutenant governor but we need to take it, we have to make it more broad because we have to offer treatment on demand.
Ross: Well and that's the point. I mean it's fine to have a plan, I'm glad you have a plan, but watching this from the ground that we have fewer beds for folks. I want them in treatment before they go to jail because this is how we cut the waste of money that we're spending, the taxpayers' money, you catch things early, you do prevention and we've got to look not just, I mean the high school thing is great but lets actually treat the problem.
Keller: Brief response please.
Healey: Right now we have the highest level of funding for the treatment ever in the history of the Commonwealth, $30 million, than the previous year. We've established a new women's facility down in New Bedford so that women who are civilly committed for treatment no longer have to be in the Framingham prison and I can tell you that there's money in this year's budget to establish a similar facility for men. We are restructuring it so that people don't have to recycle again and again through detox, that there are other options for them afterwards for shorter and longer-term rehabilitation. We are working on this and it's making a difference and we're doing it in a bipartisan way.
Keller: Let's continue. Ms. Ross you'll lead off here There been a lot of talk in this campaign about whether the children of illegal immigrants should be barred from in state tuition rate at state schools, barred from getting driver's licenses and so on. let's broaden the question what publicly funded services, such as public schools emergency healthcare, food stamps, should illegal immigrants should be allowed to access and why.
Ross: Well I think we need to broaden the debate a little further than that which is i I've been politically active for over 20 years and my experience is the only time we talk about immigration is when the economy is bad. And as far as I'm concerned that ends up being a distraction from the real issue of creating jobs for everybody getting back to schools that can educate everybody, bringing down the fees for colleges so that everyone can afford to go. It's really a very small number of young people that would go as illegal immigrants in instate tuition programs anyway and i think that real genuine and legitimate anger in the communities around immigration has really syphoned off from the bigger issues which is the people are afraid that they can't get jobs themselves, that they cant get education for their own children. Let me answer briefly that part of the problem is that our immigration system is completely different from what people remember. They're thinking of Ellis Island days when people had to weigh in. A young person who is born afar but comes here when they're two years old, right now to get status most of them would have to go to a country they would never been in and live there for 5, 10, 15 years to get in. We need a real system that allows people to citizenship but first let's solve the overall economic problems for everyone.
Healey: Yeah, no one's going to argue with emergency healthcare and doctors when they're presented with someone in need they're going to provide those services. But the whole notion of providing instate tuition, which is the equivalent of a $40,000 scholarship to someone who can not work here legally when they graduate and is not a legal resident of this state or of this country is simply a wrong use of people's taxpayer money. When you talk to taxpayers about that and they are suffering under the burden of trying to pay for their own kids' education or pay off their loans, the thought for them that their tax monies are going to be going to instate tuition for an illegal immigrant infuriates them and it should because it's not the right use of our tax monies. Tax monies aren't endlessly expandable unless you're going to raise taxes every single year and we have to choose what are our priorities and our priorities should be to use those tax monies for the people who are the legal residents of this state and the same thing goes for our housing. It's outrageous that we have illegal immigrants living in our public housing and the federal courts are telling us we can't ask that question whether or not they're legal provide that service. There are 100,000 people on waiting lists and the legal residents of this state deserve that facility.
Mihos: Illegal immigration is illegal, John, and there's no two ways about it. INS is saying by the year 2010 it's going to cost the commonwealth, cost one of us, $1 billion dollars to manage this issue. We can't even take care of our own elderly, those on fixed incomes, those that are physically challenged It's an awesome thing to sit back when Deval talks about licenses for illegals. It is illegal. I don't know what you don't understand about it. Certainly, your former boss, President Bill Clinton, and your friend George Bush now, they have just put this issues on us. The federal government has walked away from this and really, you use to be real hard on this issue. Then in the Boston Globe on May 17, 2006 you're now for the Bush-Kennedy Amnesty issue now. It strikes me as what has changed.
Healey: Bush-Kennedy Amnesty issue?
Mihos: Absolutely. The Bush-Kennedy Amnesty issue.
Healey: I'm not aware ...
Mihos: It's going to cost us a billion dollars. The republicans will never change this because they want the cheap labor and the democrats won't change this because they want the votes.
Patrick: Well I heard Grace say that we only talk about immigration when the economy is bad. I think we only act as if immigration is an issue just in time for elections. It, to me, we have has this issue with us for a long time. It's hard. Let's face it. People don't come to Massachusetts, they don't come to America for a license, or in state tuition. They come here for a job and we're not dealing with that. We're talking about an administration, your administration Lieutenant Governor, that has awarded millions of dollars in contracts to construction companies that hire undocumented workers. We need to crack down on that and if I'm governor we will. I think we also need serious border control and in that respect I think the proposal by Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy is appropriate. It's a balanced approached, more resources for boarder control, but also a path for people who are here and contributing to earn their way to citizenship by paying fines, back taxes, learning English, and getting on a path to straighten out their status.
Healey: I'm not aware I've ever stated that i support anything and I'm not even sure that there is a bush-kennedy plan.
Mihos: Andrea Estes. Boston Globe. May 17.
Healey: Well, let me tell you what I believe. Let me tell you right now what I believe. I believe that the federal government has done a poor job dealing with immigration that too many people have been pouring into the country and it has been too hard for people to legally immigrate, which is something we need. We need immigrants. Immigrants are enormously important, but legal immigrants are enormously important to our economy. Right now we need to stop our employers here in Mass. from hiring illegal immigrants. It is undermining the trades here in Mass. We are having all sorts of unfair competition between various employers and I certainly would support legislation and file legislation that would make sure that anyone working on a government contract does not have subcontractors that are using illegal immigrants. Ross: I am pleased to hear you recognize the need for a legal path for people to reach citizenship. But there was a piece you said before that we have a limited number of tax dollars to spend and we can't be spending them this way. Well, you know, it would be nice if the folks at the top were paying the same in tax dollars that the rest of us were. We'd have a lot more money and I'm still not sure why it makes sense to always be looking at how we're going to cut some service that regular people need instead of raising the tax dollars. I mean, we need to lower our tuition rates for everybody and we can afford to do that if we ask the folks at the top to pay the same as the rest of us.
Patrick: I think it is important and it sounds like we agree on the importance on cracking down on the employers that hire illegal undocumented workers, but we don't need a new law. We've got laws. We've got the prevailing wage laws. We have public information that your own government, your administration, has been giving millions of dollars in contracts to construction companies who do this very thing. And the question I think is who's in change? When are you going to take responsibility for that.
Healey: Unfortunately the democratic attorney general who was one of your opponents in the primary has not made it a priority to enforce those laws and I would like to see a stronger law that exposes more than just a slap on the wrist for those employers who do that because it does set up unfair labor practices. If you talk to roofers and people who are in the building trades they are being driven out of business now by unscrupulous employers.
Mihos: Have you filed that bill?
Healey: I have supported and members ...
Mihos: No. No. Have you filed that bill?
Healey: I have and ...
Mihos: The answer is no.
Healey: and members of the republican legislative delegation have. And they stood with me just the other day while I said I supported that law.
Patrick: Why don't you just stop writing the check. You don't need a bill to stop writing the check. Debar those construction companies. Use the levers you have. It's fine to talk about a stronger bill. Maybe we need a stronger bill, but let's use the levers we have.
Healey: Deval, you know very well the separation between the different branches of government. We are not an investigative agency - the executive branch That's the attorney general's job. That's his job and he should do it.
Patrick: It's not the attorney general's job to write the checks for the contractors that you are ...
Healey: No, but it's his job to identify those employers who are not acting legally in Massachusetts.
Patrick: But what is your job is the question.
Healey: My job is to make sure that the laws are in place and that they are enforced properly at the time that we are aware of any infraction.
Patrick: Therefore, when you learned, as we all did from the Boston Globe because apparently that's how you found out that your administration we awarding contracts to the construction companies who engaged in precisely these kinds of unlawful behaviors. Your view is there's nothing you can do at that point. That's the attorney general's job.
Healey: Our view is we make it very clear this would not be acceptable in our administration and we can then ask the attorney general, as we have, to aggressively enforce those laws. He enforces the wage and labor laws, he doesn't want to enforce the laws against employers that prohibit the employment of illegal immigrants.
Patrick: So you're saying having found this out this is someone else's responsibility.
Healey: I'm saying that each person has a role to play in government and this is ours.
Ross: I mean, look, the reality is we've got a bunch of problems going on with contracting, not just with contractors that may be hiring folks who don't have their papers in order. We're also talking about contracting with the Big Dig, which you guys didn't bother to inspect. We've got contracts that we negotiate with people like the very laborers you were talking about where the state comes to an agreement for a certain wage and then doesn't pay it. They all rest at your doorstep.
Healey: You know, I think the most important issue now is how we all would deal with illegal immigration. That was the original question as I recall and Deval Patrick is here today saying that he would like to give drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, in state tuition to illegal immigrants. Apparently you would as well and I think that position is wrong.
Patrick: About instate tuition. This is one of those issues that both sides have a point. The folks who say we should only reward folks who play by the rules, they're right. I get that. But we're talking about 600 kids who were brought here by their families. They didn't choose to come here, they came here because they were brought here and since being here they have played by the rules. They've done their homework, they've passed the MCAS, they've qualified for admission. We don't say they can't go, we say they have a pay a different rate than the kid that sat across the aisle from them in high school. I think that's fundamentally unfair.
Mihos: You're an officer of the court, you're a lawyer, a great lawyer. You may be the next governor of the commonwealth. Are you going to enforce the law on illegal immigration here in the commonwealth.
Patrick: Yes, but the law, right now, says that you can go to one of our public colleges and universities. And we don't say you can't go.
Mihos: I'm not talking about instate tuition for illegals I'm talking about housing and pubic housing authorities. When they get preferential treatment over our elderly people ...
Patrick: I don't see any evidence of preferential treatment ...
Mihos: You should talk about people in the housing authority.
Patrick: I don't see any evidence of preferential treatment and I would not support preferential treatment so don't imply that I would.
Keller: Ten seconds each. Go ahead Mrs. Healey.
Healey: I think the point he was making, not that they had preferential treatment, but that simply having them there at all, allowing illegal immigrants to take places that should be occupied by legal residents in Mass. is wrong. In our public housing we have a very limited stock. Would you stop that practice? Would you challenge that?
Patrick: If that is against the law then we have to stop it. To your question. But to me, what we have to do is connect the dots. We need to start dealing with the fact if the best we can do is say that you as a family needing shelter can not take advantage of an available benefit than we deal with it on the back end in terms of homelessness. To me, people do not come here for a chance to get a public housing apartment, or to get a driver's license or instate tuition. They come here for jobs and on that score this administration has failed and we need to do a better job.
Keller: Alright I really feel like everyone has had their say here and if you don't object I really want to move on and continue.
Ross: I want 10 seconds.
Keller: Go ahead.
Ross: It's not just about following the laws, we are actually asking to be governors and that's about deciding what laws need to be changed. And so this discussion is not just will Deval enforce the law or will I enforce the law. It's about what laws are right and we need to look at this and if it's not about preferential treatment if we have limited housing stock who's fault is that.
Keller: Now we're into our period where you have a chance to ask a question of the other three and Mrs. Healey we start with your question.
Healey: Well as I understand it all of my opponents here today have opposed the immediate rollback of taxes to 5 percent and so we don't need to establish that. So what I would like to know is how each of you voted back in the year 2000 when our tax rate was 5.85 percent. Did you vote to uphold that rate, or did you vote to roll back taxes. I'd like to know why you voted the way you did and whether you voted.
Mihos: Absolutely, I voted to roll back. I would absolutely do it as quickly as I possibly can and do what the people have asked us to do. You've been there for three and a half years. You can't get anything done and I don't think you're going to get it done overnight, god forbid if you're elected governor. But I have a plan to do it over four years. I think I can get it done and i have a better plan that makes more sense to us all, which is my proposition 1 that gets more money to people who are hurting hear in the commonwealth. Much more than a $150 annually for someone right now. What you're advocating here doesn't take up one school activity. One school activity. If you're up at the Triton schools up by Rowley and you want to play ice hockey, that's $1,750. You're going to give back $150, where's the other $1,600?
Patrick: Well I can tell you that I have no idea what my vote was on that. I can tell you that if I had bought that line that Governor Celluci offered at the time, which is that we could roll the income tax back to 5 percent and we could not have any cut in services, then I definitely would have voted for it. I still think we can get to 5 percent. My issue is whether we can get there in one step and get there now. I don't believe we can because what I think that has happened is that as we have rolled the income tax back, in fact, we have paid for it in higher property taxes and fees - $985 million in fees that you've proposed, the legislature gave you $700 plus of that and 32 percent increases on average in property taxes around the commonwealth. That to me is a real hardship because it is regressive and it deals a particularly hard blow to people who are on a fixed income who are seniors who are out of work and we got to deal with that. To me, what we must do and should do today is make prudent investments in our infrastructure, in our local communities so we create the platform to grow the economy so as we grow the economy we can afford a sustained 5 percent rate.
Ross: I did not vote for the roll back and the reason I didn't is for the exactly some of the reasons that Deval just laid out, which is that tax is the only tax that asks people at the top to pay what the rest of us our paying. We're not paying twice per dollar what the folks at the top are paying because of the property taxes, because of the excises, because of all the kids who can't afford to go to the kinds of programs that Christy was just laying out. And you know you want to act high and mighty about this but for someone like me it'd be $150 a year, maybe less than that, for someone like you it'd be $15,000 a year or $20,000 a year. We're talking about big cuts for the folks at the top and rest of us are drowning in taxes so let's be honest, this no new tax pledge thing is about lots of new taxes for the rest of us and I think that I've been consistent on it, I'll stay consistent on it because I actually think there's such a thing as tax fairness and folks at top should be paying the same amount on each dollar that rest of us do and then we'd have enough money for all of those programs you're worried about being so limited.
Healey: I think this is a very important issue because when I'm out on the road when I talk to people about their personal situation and making Massachusetts more affordable for working families and also for small businesses, rolling back taxes is the key issue. They are very concerned about rolling back this income tax because of number of small businesses also pay this individual income tax and that would have put over $2 billion back in to the pockets of people here in Massachusetts over the last four years it would have stimulated the economy. For all we know, our revenues would be even higher today if we had in fact rolled back taxes because we are investing in the economy by leaving that money in people's pockets. And it's not just the $200, it's the $500 million or $600 million that we would be leaving in the economy of Massachusetts to do that work. And Christy when you talk about your proposition 1, I hope that the moderator will allow us to actually to talk about these various economic proposals because it's important to do. How many of you would like to see the level of local aid raised to 40 percent immediately?
Mihos: No question.
Healey: Yours stipulates that. Correct?
Mihos: Overtime. Absolutely.
Healey: Overtime. By your own calculations that's $1.7 billion more that you're going to have to find to put into local aid.
Mihos: That's the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation plan.
Healey: I've actually put together a budget, Christy, and I can actually tell you that if you take that pie there are fixed costs, there are pension costs, there are debt costs and that the only things other than local aid that you can work with that you can shrink are education, health and human services and law enforcement. Which of those three are you intending to cut?
Mihos: I would never do it the way you people did when you allegedly took on $3 billion. It was never $3 billion it was $1.8 billion. You raised fees, you fines and taxes - the Mass. Taxpayers Foundation said it was $1.8 billion it wasn't $3 billion. It's an illusion, it's an illusion. But, what you did do was raise fees, fines and taxes, $850 million. You raised the gas tax 2 cents. You cut local aid by over $2 billion.
Healey: So for your $1.7 billion, where is it coming from?
Mihos: I would go out and I would work with the legislature to pass slots at the racetracks, that's $400 million. You guys started that but when Mitt Romney started running for president he walked away from it. I would cut 8,000 state employees, that's $400 million again. I would competitively bid Medicaid and get 5 percent off of that, that's $200 million. I would go after Big Dig contractors that you have never done, that's $300 million.
Healey: That goes back toward the Big Dig costs.
Mihos: Excuse me. Excuse me. That's money that you'll never see.
Patrick: Alright, look. Lt. Gov., you're own budget chief predicts a $200 million deficit in this fiscal year. And you're proposing to take another $700 million out of revenues in this one step income tax reduction to 5 percent. It's a gimmick. It's a game. And you understand because you did it and did it well, the importance of investing in targeted ways in the infrastructure. That's what Fort Devens was all about. $34 million of that $60 million in incentives to bring Bristol Meyers Squibs to Fort Devens was infrastructure investments - underground and surface. Wastewater treatments, sewers, roads and so forth. That's the kind of thing that we have to do and which you have done in targeted ways to stimulate our economy and create more jobs.
Healey: So Deval, do you also believe that we should be raising our local aid to 40 percent of our operating budget. Patrick: I don't believe we can get there in one step, no. I don;'t think we can afford to do that in one step.
Healey: And how much is local aid currently? What percentage is local aid?
Patrick: Local aid is about 23 or 24 percent of the budget. We can't go to 40 percent in one step in my view.
Healey: It's 19 and a half.
Ross: You know we're, you keep mixing up people want tax relief. Yeah, people want tax relief. You're only willing to look at income tax and all the policies that have been going on for 16 years with no new taxes has meant lots of new taxes, not income tax. So when you talk try and separate out when you talk about income tax and other taxes because you roll them all together like they're all the same. They're not the same. And in terms of who pays for those things it matters who pays for those things.
Healey: I also have plan to lower the stress on property taxes and I'll be very quick about it. One of them is pension reform so we have all of those 104 inefficient pension funds that are out there around the state for local workers rolled into the state pension plan where they get a much better rate of return that would put $200 million back in the pockets of cities in towns to hire teachers, police officers, firefighters, do infrastructure repair, do whatever it is they need to do. The other thing and this is the budget question. For every single city and town is health insurance and they could buy their healthcare insurance through our state group insurance commission again saving tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars. It's a much more dependable plan than expecting the state to send more money to the cities and towns every year. This is money they could save themselves from their own property taxes.
Patrick: We should stay on this because this is really important and really important to the residents too. First of all, the idea of pension reform, while it's not necessary, I think, to roll all of those pension plans in to one big one, but fewer and capturing those management costs is a terrific idea and I support it and I've said so. I think the notion that savings would necessarily go to reducing the property tax is not established. You're going to have to condition that in the same way that I'm talking about conditioning a portion of a return of local aid. That's the only way we're going to get the pressure off of the property tax, not pressure, not avoiding the increases in property tax, but really reducing it. To me, to do this, at least to get direct and prompt property tax relief is by enhancing the senior circuit breaker program, the senior exemption program including moderate and low income homeowners in this. These two programs today are $40 million we can raise those $100 million and get direct relief to people today.
Ross: Stronger than that. We need to actually look at income tax and if we look at income tax and we do it in a just way, we restructure the taxes so the property tax is not just a circuit breaker for seniors but a circuit breaker for the tax payers so they get to take that off their taxes let's allow property tax to be that for everybody and let's look at the idea that we need to also look at the question of infrastructure money. you just talked about the Devens Air Force Base, lots of money has gone in to that. My local communities like Worcester, we could use that money downtown for our small businesses. Now small businesses are the folks who the profit they make, they stay home with us, Bristol Meyers' profit isn't going to stay in this state.
Healey: When you all complain about the small amount put back into people's pockets by rolling back the income tax, if you put another $100 million into property tax relief here in Massachusetts through that circuit breaker it would be the equivalent of $50 per property owner. That's all it would buy you. I've looked at these numbers, I've looked at ways to do this and it's a problem.
Patrick: Well, right now the cap is $850 million for the senior circuit breaker and $1,000 round about for the senior exemption so I'm not taking about $50.
Healey: If you're saying put $100 million in to it ...
Patrick: Excuse me Lt. Gov., I'm not talking about in any way trivializing the fact that people would with an income tax rollback get $100 $150 bucks back, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about being candid with people about what the trade-offs are. And that things like roads and bridges don't build themselves and don't repair themselves. We have got to have the resources for shared responsibility of citizenship.
Keller: Mr. Mihos, it's time for your question. Do you want to add anything?
Mihos: I would like to ask a question. Over the past seven or eight months that we've been out there on the trail, we've all heard about local aid, property taxes, and education funding. I've offered a specific proposal- I call it Proposition One- and it would set a cap on property assessments at the present level, increase- and it wouldn't change. It wouldn't change until you decided to sell your property- your residential property or your business property. I would increase local aid from what it is now to 40 percent, get back well over a billion dollars. And then the third issue is no fees for public school children.
Keller: And the question?
Mihos: And the question is, in real numbers, let's do the math. You've all set out how you would increase local aid, cut property taxes, increase education funding. In real numbers, how would you do it?
Patrick: Well, we start it seems to me, by squeezing inefficiencies out of the current budget. There is $730 million that I've identified already. I think there's more. And they include things like going after Medicaid fraud. $1.5 billion is what the auditor estimated we've foregone over a three year period. My estimate is to take just a portion of that. It's enforcing wage and hour laws at $150, $200 million a year. It's the number of legislative earmarks, which have grown by 20 percent during the oversight of this current administration to upwards of half a billion dollars in pet projects that we fund today and that has got to be more disciplined and constrained. That's where we start, it seems to me. And then I think we postpone this income tax roll-back so that we can take the surplus and invest it in ourselves- in our infrastructure, in our schools. We can't do everything at once, but we have to make targeted investments that make it possible for us to grow the economy in the long-run.
Keller: Ms. Ross, 60 seconds.
Ross: Good question, Christy, because I've been wondering the same thing and not very many people are happy with the 8,000 jobs you want to cut out, but I want to honor the fact that you actually answered the question about how you're going to balance the budget, which I'd like to hear both of these two do. My answer is pretty straightforward. Right now, we lose about $3 billion off the top because the folks on the bottom paying twice per dollar in their income on taxes and the folks at the top aren't. And there's about a $3 billion- that's an old estimate- right there that's available to us. Another piece of money though, is infrastructure deals- the cheap land, the taxes breaks for big corporations to come and supposedly provide jobs. Gillette was supposed to be doing that. They got us some jobs, they left. They went on to somewhere else. So those policies don't work. What does work is putting money into our local economies. You talked about workers needing some more money back. The income tax rollback is tiny compared to what increasing the minimum wage would do for regular people. Those people, plus our small business owners, they spend their money locally and that's the answer. Yes, local aid, but we need to increase those other things. One last thing- Keller- No, no, time's up. Ms. Healey, 60 seconds. You can return to it in rebuttal.
Healey: Unlike everyone else here today, I've actually balanced a budget- four years in a row, in good times and in bad- and I have shown that I have what it takes to make the tough decisions- whether it's a gap of $3.2 billion, and Christy, it was, or whether it's the next year when it was $1.8, or whether it was the next two years when we were fortunate enough to have billion dollar budget surpluses. Now, the legislature has spent that money. It's not sitting around on the table anymore. And I can tell you that we all would have been much better off if we had given that money back to the people who earned it and taken that money off the table so the legislature couldn't have spent it and raised the overall spending level in this state to an untenable level. Now, Deval Patrick has eight point something billion dollars of spending proposals on the table, and over the course of four years, you will have to raise taxes to fulfill the promises you have made to every single special interest in this entire state. Whether it's teachers, law enforcement, rolling back the property taxes, it is extraordinary the amount of promises that you're making. You've spent that $750 million at least three or four times.
Keller: Mr. Mihos, rebuttal.
Mihos: I just think that a lot of these issues that you talked about, Deval, relative to earmarks and all, these are the same people that you've been up to see a number of times. These are the same people that have raised money on your campaign. These are the special interests that you and the Republican have taken money hand-over-fist- whether they be Big Dig contractors or all their lobbyists, you name it- it's going to be very difficult for you to do anything different, being one of them, if you're elected governor.
Patrick: Name one Big Dig contractor I've taken money from.
Mihos: Tom O'Neil and Associates. As a lobbyist, they've represented Big Dig.
Patrick: No, name one Big Dig contractor I've taken money from.
Mihos: I'll give you another one.
Patrick: You haven't given me one.
Mihos: Tom O'Neil is a lobbyist for the Big Dig. He's Bechtel's lobbyist. They had a fundraiser for you. They had a fundraiser for you (Healey). The other one is someone that really came out strong for you- a former attorney general. He is the lawyer for Bechtel's lawyer. You're taking money from him.
Patrick: First of all, let me be very clear. I've taken no money from any Big Dig contractor and I won't. And the reason I won't is because Bechtel and the whole cadre of contractors- and we agree on this- have got to be held accountable. And right now, there is entirely too much interrelationship, both politically and personally, between the folks whose job it is to oversee this project, and the folks who are responsible for billions of dollars of cost overruns and shoddy workmanship. I will also say, Lt. Governor, when you talk about a balanced budget, you're talking about a $700 million income tax rollback, you're talking about $114 million in foregone tolls, you're talking about 50 items- many of which require new spending. That is what your are putting on the table as a way forward and it doesn't add up. It does not balance. The fact of the matter is that every one of us is going to have to make hard judgements going forward. There are no promises I've made for any of the endorsements- there's no quid pro quo- every single one of us is going to have to make judgements, and the judgements I want to make are about how we grow a stronger economy so that we can afford the services people say they want.
Healey: The way you grow a stronger economy is to allow people to keep their own money and to allow businesses to have more money so that they can add jobs. That's how you grow the economy, Deval. And you know what, all around the State House this week there has just been a buzz which is, 'we're so excited that Deval Patrick will be our next governor because he's going to be a rubber stamp for every single spending proposal that we have. He is going to fulfill our agenda. He is going to do what we want them to do.' And I have been up there long enough so that I know that what they want to do is spend the taxpayers' money without regard to the work that went into every single dollar.
Keller: Go ahead, she addressed you directly.
Patrick: I have to say look, you're right that getting money back to people and businesses is absolutely key. It's their money.
Healey: It is their money.
Patrick: It is their money, but it's also their broken road. And it's their over-crowded school. It's their broken neighborhood and broken neighbor. And you understand- and the Devens example is just one example- that sometime, if you want to grow the economy, if you want to strengthen economic opportunity, the state, in shared responsibility, has got to make investments. And you did so at the tune of $34 million at Devens. So it's not this idea that people earn what they earn and have no responsibility for the Commonwealth. We have a responsibility, in addition to personal responsibility, to take charge of shared responsibility.
Keller: You may respond and then Ms. Ross.
Healey: And the other thing that you have a responsibility to do is to tell the truth about the Commonwealth. When you're talking about the Commonwealth, be responsible. Do you even know whether or not the student-teacher ratio has gone up, down, or has stayed the same during the course of our administration?
Patrick: I know that it's very uneven all over the Commonwealth. If you go and visit someplace like the Mason School in Roxbury, with an average student-teacher ratio of about 13 kids, and then you go talk about that in a place like Newton, their jobs drop. Roxbury has the Mason School- a pilot school- doing beautiful things, wonderful things. Go to Newton, a wealthy school, and they are laying off teachers and making those classrooms larger because they can't make ends meet and they can't make ends meet because of the fiscal shell game.
Healey: Let me just get this straight because it is one thing that has concerned me deeply about the way you've been misrepresenting the facts. Our student ratio across the state, Deval, is 13.2 students to one teacher. That's the average across the state. And beyond that, we have hired 1,500 more teachers from the beginning of our administration to the end. There are more teachers in this Commonwealth today than when we came into office and the student-teacher ratio has dropped.
Keller: All right folks, I've enjoyed the discussion but now we're up to our closing statements, so you're going to have to say what you want to say in a closing minute and I'm going to start with you, Mr. Patrick.
Patrick: Well, I will first say that I want to thank everybody for tuning in. I want to thank my colleagues for another spirited conversation. Listen, everybody here- every candidate- has a few good ideas. But those ideas aren't going anywhere if we don't start being candid with you and with each other and showing real leadership. We need to reinvent our politics, not just be about programs and policies. We need a much more inclusive, broader range of engagement- people who have checked out, checking back in because there are big issues in front of us. And if we don't seize the best ideas and the best people, and lead through that change with that kind of resource- Democrats, independents, and Republicans- then Massachusetts will fuel its future on the fumes of its past and that's not good enough. I want to offer leadership through change, which I have done in government, in business, in nonprofits, in community groups as well. I'm the only one here with that range of leadership experience and I want to bring it to the good of all people of Massachusetts. Thank you.
Keller: Thank you. Ms. Ross.
Ross: Well, it's been quite a night, voters of Massachusetts. We've got folks who told you they've made really tough decisions, but they don't talk to their friends who have the money and who aren't willing to take back the tax loopholes for big corporations so that the rest of us could have enough money to live. So, not sure. They all talk about the rhetoric of change. I've actually spent my life creating change- working with you, working with people like you to take back our lives and to take back our communities. You know, we've listened to Kerry Healey talk about four years where she couldn't get a lot of proposals through because of the Democratic legislature, and yet that's what she'll face if she's elected. We have Deval Patrick who's actually been a little more concrete tonight, but often talks about poetry and not policy and he'll talk about his broad experience, but it doesn't include elected leadership and I'm not sure that he's thinking about what you need most. Look, it's very straightforward. I'm about the reality of change. I'm about telling you the truth. I will govern with courage. I'll remember your roof, your paycheck, our children. If you vote for me on Nov. 7, I'm going to win and we're going to win together because I know how to get us there.
Keller: Thank you. Ms. Healey.
Healey: Thank you, Jon, and I'd like to thank CBS4 for hosting this debate tonight. Over the last four years, Massachusetts has come a long way. I know my opponents will never admit it, but it's true. We faced a $3 billion budget deficit when we came into office and we closed that deficit and balanced the budget four years in a row, without raising taxes. Now voters are facing a very stark choice. And the choice is focused on what is going to happen in the next four years. Deval Patrick, as we've heard tonight, has made a lot of expensive promises, and there's a big difference between Deval Patrick and me. I don't believe that raising taxes will solve any of the problems of this Commonwealth. It won't keep people from leaving the Commonwealth. It won't make it more affordable for you and your family. It won't bring new jobs to the Commonwealth. What we need on Beacon Hill is balance. We need someone who can stand up to the legislature and the spending impulses of the legislature and say 'no.' I've shown that I can do that and I'm the only person here today who has the experience to be governor of this Commonwealth for the next four years. Thank you for your vote.
Keller: Thank you. Mr. Mihos.
Mihos: We've talked about so many issues during this campaign, but something's missing- leadership. And it's been so long since Massachusetts has had a real leader. Leadership. Standing up for the people, for the Commonwealth, for the rest of us. Standing up to big business, big labor, big government and big media. I did this as a private citizen when I served on the Turnpike Board and took on your fight on the Big Dig. There was never any question in my mind or in my heart that everything I was doing was the right thing to do. Imagine what I can do as your governor. Andrew Jackson once said, 'One man with courage makes the majority.' On Nov. 7, you get a chance to change the political culture here in Massachusetts. I need your vote and I will never, ever let you down. Thank you.
Keller: Thank you, and thank you all very much for being here. That concluded tonight's debate.